Shoppers Turn To 'Click-And-Collect' Buying

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Retail trading figures for Christmas have revealed consumers are increasingly turning towards 'click and collect' online shopping.

Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte, told Sky News: "We predicted another strong year for online retail, forecasting an increase in sales for Christmas 2012 of approximately 17%.

"Broadly speaking, this has come to fruition as consumers embraced a click-and-collect Christmas."

High street chain Next (Other OTC: NXGPF - news) said store sales only rose by 0.8% between Nov 1 and Dec 24 compared to 2011, but its online sales for Next Directory beat forecasts with an 11.2% increase.

Waitrose said its final 12 days of trade leading up to the new year were the strongest ever, with total sales (excluding fuel) 8.8% higher than 2011 and like-for-like sales 5.4% higher, while online sales between November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) and Christmas Eve were up 37%.

On Wednesday, John Lewis revealed that in December its online sales broke through the £800m milestone for the year.

It added that online sales for the five weeks to December 29 were up 44.3% on 2011 - with its website now accounting for a quarter of the company's total business.

A number of other key retailers are expected to reveal their Christmas trading figures next week, including Morrisons, Tesco (Other OTC: TSCDY - news) and Marks and Spencer (LSE: MKS.L - news) .

Meanwhile, smartphones have increasingly become the tool of choice for shoppers, according to Deloitte.

The business advisory firm forecast that a total of £3.5bn retail Christmas sales were purchased through or influenced by consumers' smartphone usage.

Mr Geddes said: "The influence of smartphones far outweighs the value of direct sales made through them.

"Consumers are increasingly using their device to research prices, store Christmas shopping lists, engage with friends and family using social media, but also increasingly to make payments for goods."

Meanwhile, a grim warning was issued to retailers on Wednesday, after it was revealed retail bankruptcies increased 6% last year, and up 18% from 2010.

A number of famous high street names have been hit by administration in 2012, in part exacerbated by the accelerating migration online.

Deloitte restructuring services partner Lee Manning said: "As an increasing proportion of retail sales move to online and mobile, retailers need to consider how their stores support sales across all channels by offering flexible delivery or collection options.

"There will always be a need for physical retail space but at present too many retailers have too many stores and 2013 is likely to be marked by further closure programmes."